As the famous storyline goes, the Montreal Canadiens have once again met their maker as the team announced on Monday the loss of two players to the IR and for the remainder of the regular season.
It was on Friday night at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn that the Habs suffered these setbacks against the New York Islanders as both captain Max Pacioretty and defensemen Victor Mete left the affair early and never returned from the change room.
At this time, it is known that Pacioretty left the game with a knee injury and his recovery period has been estimated at 4-6 weeks. As for the severity of Mete, who is just 19 years of age, he suffered a fractured finger and has since been sidelined for six weeks.
It has been a rough season for head coach Claude Julien and his club as they started off strong but very quickly lost their rhythm. In spite of constant calls to the AHL’s Laval Rocket, it seems as if a spark just could not be re-lit.
Sure their has been talent added at points to shed some light, however, it is very unlikely to this point in time that the Canadiens find themselves ready for the post-season.
It’s an unfortunate reality for general manager Marc Bergevin and the entirety of the front office to face as they were trying to put a winner back together for 2018, however, things just did not fall into place exactly as they has hoped.
Pacioretty has seen time out over periods of the season as he has been dealing with a foot injury which he suffered back on Opening Night, however, could not let that be his reason to sit out unless absolutely necessary.
In his place, the team has had the chance to see Michael McCarron return to Montreal while Nikita Sherbak got his chance alongside Chris Terry as well as Brett Lernout.
The net situation has also seen it’s troubles since October as veteran Al Montoya was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Brandon Davidson. This gave the Habs an opportunity to bring up Charlie Lindgren who has seen game time in his place while doing so with solid play.
Speaking of which, a short time following the finalization of the transaction, the Canadiens claimed Antti Niemi off waivers from the Penguins and he has since been backup to longtime all-star Carey Price while also backing up the 24-year-old from Lakeville, Minnesota.
Most recently, Niemi has been placed on the club’s IR while backstop Zach Fucale has been recalled on an emergency basis.
Fucale is scheduled to meet the team in Newark ahead of the Canadiens game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Centre on Tuesday.
Taking a look at Fucale’s performance over the course of the season, the 22-year-old has split time between the AHL’s Laval Rocket and the ECHL’s Brampton Beast. It is very possible the native of Rosemère, Quebec could make his NHL debut later in the week as he has not yet recorded any time present at the NHL level.
In a total of 12 games for the Laval Rocket this season, Fucale, the Canadiens’ 2013 second-round pick, has posted an 8-3-0 record to go alongside a 3.10 goals-against average and .891 save percentage.
Fucale has also seen time playing in international tournaments as he was the starting netminder for Team Canada when they won gold at the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championship.
Taking a look at Pacioretty’s statistics for regular season play, the 29-year-old forward has scored 17 goals and 20 assists in a total of 64 games played with a defensive rating of minus-16.
As noted by Sportsnet, Pacioretty, who has seen a rather unusual decrease in production on the ice, had been one of the leagues most consistent scorers coming into 2017-18 as he has has reached the 30-goal mark in five of the past six seasons. He had 15 goals in 44 games in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
As for Mete, previously seen with the OHL’s London Knights, the rookie defender has recorded seven assists and a plus-5 rating in a total of 49 games played. It is also worth noting that Mete did step away from the team for a brief time in December in order to help Canada compete at the World Junior Hockey Championship held in Buffalo, New York.
This all to be said, the team has no high expectations given the glum results of a poorly played season, however, they do hope to rebuild over the offseason in order to get back into the playoff picture come the 2019 postseason.
Montreal is going into tomorrow night’s square off with a record of 25-29-11, sitting 10 points behind Columbus for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Canadiens return to action on Tuesday night in New Jersey as they look to stall Taylor hall’s point streak when they face off against the Devils. The game can be seen on RDS and TSN2, meanwhile, it can be heard on TSN Radio 690 Montreal and 98;5FM, starting when the puck drops as scheduled for 7:00pmET.